The previous post discussed that three of Sukanto Tanoto’s keys to success are eagerness to read, learning by doing, and creativity to find opportunities other people may not recognize. In fact, Sukanto Tanoto still has some other keys to success in his business “think, act, learn, read, hear, and see”. They include competition strategy and learning from mistakes.
Two Steps Ahead the Competitors
This is the competition strategy applied by Sukanto Tanoto. “I take two steps ahead before other people think about an opportunity.” He successfully applied this competition strategy when he established palm tree plantation in Sumatera. At the time he established the company, there was no large-scale private plantation in Sumatra, even though there had been some large-scale foreign plantations there. When the other investors followed his path, his business has been established.
Learning from mistakes
Even a successful businessperson is not free from mistakes. The same thing applies for Sukanto Tanoto. However, for him, mistake is no something to regret. Instead, it is something to learn from. He admitted that he made a mistake in running PT. Inti Indorayon Utama (IIU). The company focuses in reforestation to produce pulp, paper, and rayon. It also supplied superior seeds of pulp-producing timber. The company was subject to rejection from the surrounding society and environmental activists due to alleged pollution on Toba Lake. As a result, UII was temporarily shut off.
Sukanto Tanoto got meaningful learning from the mistake and he promised not to do the same mistake in the future. He proved it when establishing his second pulp company in Riau – PT. Riau Pulp, one of the world’s largest pulp factories. To minimize the risk of public rejection, he works with non-governmental organizations to design a community development program for the surrounding community. What we did was “giving the seeds and we educate the community on how to cultivate them in a proper way.”